Rev. Eric Hoffman in front of the church he serves in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Swedenborgians from across the United States and Canada were in St. Paul, Minnesota last week for their annual convention. We’ve long been interested in the Swedenborgian Church, ever since Mehmet Oz referenced this tradition in our show “Heart and Soul.” With this gathering unfolding in our backyard, we contacted Rev. Eric Hoffman who presides over a local Swedenborgian church to learn more.
Emanuel Swedenborg, an 18th-century Swedish scientist and theologian, never set out to found a church movement. The first Swedenborgian church was established in London 15 years after he died.
There have been many famous Swedenborgians throughout history, including Johnny Appleseed, Helen Keller, and the poet William Blake. Al-Anon co-founder Lois Wilson grew up in a Swedenborgian family.
Our audio interview with Rev. Hoffman introduces a few core theological ideas that are important to Swedenborgians. He also debunked common misconceptions about this Protestant denomination including the idea that they have a special relationship to Sweden (they don’t) or conduct their church services in Swedish (they don’t do that either).
If you have personal experience with the Swedenborgian Church, we’d love to hear your stories so we can continue to deepen our understanding of this tradition.
(photos: Nancy Rosenbaum)